Grenade thrown at police Land Rover in west Belfast was 'an attempt to kill officers'
A grenade was thrown at a police car in west Belfast in what has been described as an attempt to kill officers.
The attack happened at Milltown Row off the Falls Road at 2am on Wednesday.
Chief Superintendent Jonathan Roberts said a police Land Rover was on a routine patrol when it was struck by an object before a loud bang was heard.
No injuries have been reported.
"A loud bang was then heard and the police car made its way to a place of safety," he said.
"Thankfully, none of the officers inside the vehicle were injured and no damage was noted to the car.
"A police operation was immediately implemented to ensure the safety of everyone in the area and that operation is ongoing at present.
"The remnants of a suspected grenade have been recovered and taken away for forensic testing.
"Further searches are being conducted this morning to ensure there are no other devices present which could endanger members of the public."
Mr Roberts said the incident was "undoubtedly an attempt to kill or injure police officers".
"This despicable act must be condemned by all," he said.
"A full and thorough investigation is under way and I would appeal to anyone who noticed any recent suspicious activity in the area or who has any information which could assist us with our enquiries to contact detectives at Musgrave on 101 quoting reference number 79 04/12/19."
Sinn Féin West Belfast election candidate Paul Maskey condemned the attack as "reckless and futile".
"Thankfully no-one has been injured in this reckless attack," he said.
"The vast majority of people in West Belfast and beyond want these futile attacks to end immediately.
"Those responsible have nothing to offer but hurt and injury.
"People should do all they can to assist the PSNI in their investigation."
Mark Lindsay, chairman of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland, said the officers inside the vehicle had been lucky to escape without injury in what he described as a "callous attempt to kill them".
"The officers patrolling in their vehicle in Milltown Row were fortunate to escape unscathed after their vehicle was struck by a suspected grenade," he said.
"Instead of reporting a failed terrorist attack this morning, we could easily have been commenting on fatalities or serious injuries. I am relieved that our officers weren't hurt in this cowardly and callous attempt to kill them.
"As a community, we have to rid ourselves of this terrorist menace. It is holding back all of us who want to build a better future for our children.
"These dissident republicans are heartless and ruthless. We have a threat level that is officially rated 'severe' and there's little prospect of that changing in the foreseeable future.
"There is a full investigation under way and I would ask the community for its help to track down the people responsible for this murderous attack."
West Belfast DUP Westminster candidate Frank McCoubrey also condemned the attack.
"Those responsible clearly have no respect or care for the people who live here," he said.
"Their intention was to kill or harm and it is totally despicable that anyone would carry out this mindless attack.
"Thankfully nobody was injured but we could be dealing with a different story today.
"Someone knows who has carried this out and I would urge anyone with any information to bring it forward to the police."